Move to table new varsity bill opposed
KARACHI, Nov 6: The Sindh government’s move to upgrade the Sindh Medical College to a university through an ordinance, which has been invalid for the past two months, continues to be a source of considerable anguish for hundreds of medical, academic and administrative employees of the devolved Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and its affiliate institutes.
It emerged during a joint meeting of the unit heads, academic and administrative councils on Tuesday that none of the 2,500 employees of the JPMC were happy about being imposed upon by a handful of personnel from the Sindh Medical College.
Many participants observed that while the cases against amalgamation of the federally-run JPMC, National Institute of Child Health (NICH) and National Institute for Cardiovascular Disease (NICVD) with the Sindh health department were till pending with the higher judiciary, it was extremely unfair that the authorities were about to deprive the employees of the status of being federal employees, without taking them on board or addressing their longstanding demands of developing a federal or autonomous medical education and research university.
Referring to the lapse of the Sindh Medical University (SMU) ordinance on August 30, the participants said now the Sindh government was contemplating tabling a bill to establish the Sindh Jinnah Medical University (SJMU) in the next session of the Sindh Assembly. This move, they believed, was an attempt to change the status of the employees of the JPMC, NICH and NICVD even though the Sindh High Court had issued a restraining order in July 2011 to the authorities.Talking about the devolution of the NICH and NICVD, the spokesperson for JPMC’s administrative and academic council said, “The two federal institutions cannot be declared as constituent parts of any university managed by the Sindh government because it would bring the institutes and their entire staff under the subordination of the proposed university.”
Fearing that the proposed move of the provincial government would be a violation of service rules meant for federal employees, the meeting observed that it would also be a serious violation of the order issued by the Sindh High Court.
“Therefore, the JPMC reserves the right to stop teaching all students of the Sindh Medical University until the matter is decided in court.”
The participants also observed that after a hasty decision of devolving federal health institutions to the provinces, efforts were now being made to bring changes in the service structure and rules of the JPMC, NICH and NICVD, whose employees were currently on deputation to the Sindh government.
“Such development would be against the existing rules and the high court’s order, and can also be contested legally, since the high court had not only directed not to terminate the service of any employee of the federal government but had also prohibited their transfers to other institutions of the Sindh government,” the spokesperson remarked.
When contacted, the vice-chancellor of SJMU, Dr Tariq Rafi, said that recently it had been decided in a meeting presided over by the president that the Sindh government would table a new bill to set up the SJMU, since the SMU ordinance issued earlier could not be extended.“You may say that the new university is working in a legal vacuum, particularly when the university’s senate, syndicate and other statutory bodies and offices are yet to be constituted,” he said. “But in my capacity as the vice-chancellor I take directives from the chief minister.”
Dr Rafi further explained that since the president had asked the authorities concerned to ensure that the proposed university act was implemented retrospectively, it could be said that all the moves made since September 1 would get the legal cover as soon as the law for the new medical university was enacted.
Replying to another question, he said that saying that the employees of the JPMC and other federal institutions had not been consulted by the authorities was premature.
As soon as the bill for SJMU was passed by the Sindh Assembly and the university was legally notified, all the employees of the JPMC, NICH and NICVD would be given the option of either affiliating themselves with the university or staying away, he said.
“All the federal employees are free to decide whether they want to become a part of the university, work under the Sindh health department or the federal government,” said Dr Rafi.